A Rod to Suit My Tastes

My foul-weather do-it-yourself project is still a work in progress

      The wind was still howling through the trees when my rod-building components arrived. Venturing outside to retrieve the box, I noted that Mother Nature hadn’t realized it was mid-March. I pulled my coat tighter against my chest.
      Back inside, I spewed the contents across the dining room table, thankful that my wife had left for the day. There was an ultra-light-action rod blank, six feet long and rated for two- to four-pound line and 1⁄32- to 1⁄4-ounce baits. Also included were the proper set of eight casting rod guides, rod-wrapping thread, finishing epoxy, a couple of disposable brushes and a simple cork reel seat handle.
     The rod handle had been pre-assembled out of cork rings and tapered just as I desired. But the hole bored in the handle was considerably smaller than the blank I received. So I ventured out into my wife’s sculpture studio to look for some appropriately sized rat-tail files.
     I came upon them almost immediately, held in a bucket of other implements she had used in a recent project. Two of the files were exactly the size I was looking for: Clear proof to me of the gods’ good wishes, as her studio is maintained as only another artist can appreciate, in that organization is anathema to creativity.
      Fixing the base of the file in a portable drill, I walked into the kitchen and, holding the handle over the waste bucket, bored out the internal channel to just the right size for the tapered rod butt. Slathering the butt end of the blank with some 15-minute epoxy, I gave it a little time to be sure it was getting a good grip on the blank, then slid the cork handle down over the blank and into place.
      Placing the blank and handle onto a cradle that I had earlier constructed out of scrap lumber and PVC tubing, I began to wind on the casting rod guides. I closely monitored the wrap on each guide foot, making sure I kept each thread turn firmly touching the previous to achieve a neat and appealing wrap. Usually that task takes an hour or so; this time, it took more than four hours.
     Applying the guide-wrap finish was a simple task. Slowly mixing the two-part epoxy to avoid air bubbles, I carefully applied a layer of finish to each of the guide wraps with the rod held in the wrapping cradle. Once every five minutes for the first half hour, then every 15 minutes until the epoxy had firmly set with a level finish, I rotated the rod 180 degrees.
      When finished, I had a new custom fishing rod, done inexpensively in the comfort of my home and completed well before my wife returned.
      A couple of days later, I put the rod to the test. On the water I immediately noticed two faults. First, the handle was too short for my style of casting and fish fighting. Second, a couple of the guides were not in perfect alignment.
      So I am not finished. I tell myself it will be a fairly simple matter to extend the handle with some additional corks over a blank extension and to remove the offending guides and rewrap them.
     Rods made to your own personal tastes are a work in progress and are done only when you’re satisfied.